2015 San Francisco Giants Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/27/2015
Let's go ahead and cut to the chase: No team has repeated as World Series champion since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000, and the Giants aren't going to do it this year -- not simply because it's an odd-numbered year.
True, I don't think many people had the Giants winning it all last year, either. They finished 88-74, six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and had to travel to Pittsburgh, one of the majors' best teams at home last year, for the wild-card game. There we got a glimpse of what was to come from Madison Bumgarner as he pitched a four-hit shutout in the 8-0 win. OK, that wasn't a shocker as the Giants were actually slight favorites in that one behind their ace.
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Beating the Nationals in the NLDS would be another thing entirely considering Washington had the best record in the NL. Yet the Giants did despite losing the only game Bumgarner pitched. All three Giants wins were by one run, and the key victory was that 18-inning affair in Game 2. Fine, but San Francisco surely wouldn't beat favored St. Louis in the NLCS. It was over in five.
In the World Series, Bumgarner had perhaps the greatest postseason performance ever for a pitcher in a series with two wins and a save (in Game 7), allowing one earned run over 21 innings, as San Francisco won the World Series for the third straight even-numbered year.
Kudos to that franchise, which I guess you have to call a dynasty in this era. But the 2015 club doesn't look comparable on paper after some misses in free agency. Plus, here was the Giants' record the past two odd-numbered years: 76-86 (2013) and 86-76 (2011).
Giants 2015 Projected Lineup
Let's start with the team's second-most important player after catcher Buster Posey, and that's outfielder Hunter Pence. He's probably going to miss the first month of the season with a broken left forearm suffered in early March. His first game with the Giants was Aug. 1, 2012, and he leads the team in games (383 straight, the longest streak in the majors), hits (406), runs (225), homers (54), RBIs (218) and extra-base hits (146) since. The Giants are offensively-challenged even with Pence, who hit .277 with 20 homers last year.
San Francisco also lost two of its other best hitters from last year to free agency: third baseman Pablo Sandoval (.279, 16 HRs, 73 RBIs), who has always raised his game in the postseason, and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse (.279, 16 HRs, 61 RBIs).
Center fielder Angel Pagan (.300, 16 steals) will leadoff. The team was much better with Pagan in the lineup last year, but he played only 96 games and none in the playoffs. It's the second straight year Pagan failed to reach 100 games, and he will be 34 this summer so he might be breaking down. He's followed by second baseman Joe Panik (.305 in 73 games), who was a nice surprise as a rookie. Then comes Posey (.311, 22 HRs, 89 RBIs), who is the one guy this team must keep healthy among the position players. He will play some first base to avoid wearing down. First baseman Brandon Belt (12 HRs, 27 RBIs in 214 at-bats) will hit cleanup.
Pence should hit fifth when he's back, so it's not clear what Manager Bruce Bochy will do with Gregor Blanco (.260, 38 RBIs), who will be in for Pence. Normally Blanco simply fills in all over the outfield. The new third baseman is Casey McGehee, who hit .287 with 76 RBIs with the Marlins last year. Left fielder Nori Aoki (.285, 43 RBIs, 17 SBs with the Royals) should hit seventh and shortstop Brandon Crawford (.246, 10 HRs, 69 RBIs) at No. 8.
Somehow the Giants finished 12th in runs last year, but I don't see how that happens again. The lineup should hit for a solid average and won't strike out a ton but also won't have much power.
Giants 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Obviously, this all starts with Bumgarner, who was 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 219 strikeouts in a career-high 217.1 innings in 2014. The only worry with him is the innings as he added 52.2 more in the postseason. Some ace pitchers who were ridden all season and deep into the playoffs can break down or struggle the next year. It has happened plenty of times. If it does to Bumgarner, this team is dead in the water.
The Giants reportedly made free-agent offers to Jon Lester and James Shields, but both opted to pass despite being able to play in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park half the time. So this rotation should look pretty much the same. Matt Cain is penciled in as the No. 2, but he's coming off major elbow surgery (not Tommy John, however). Cain was just 2-7 with a 4.18 ERA before being shut down. He has reported some soreness in that arm this spring, so I don't think you can count on him returning to his pre-2013 form yet. Maybe he will never be that guy again.
Cain will be followed by Tim Hudson, who will be 40 in July and is coming off ankle surgery. Hudson was a solid 9-13 with a 3.70 ERA last season but shaky in the playoffs. Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.17 after trade from Boston) was re-signed and will be the No. 4, but he's soon to be 34 and also struggled in the playoffs. It appears that Tim Lincecum (12-9, 4.74) will beat out re-signed Ryan Vogelsong for the No. 5 spot. Lincecum hasn't been a consistently good starter since 2011.
Sergio Casilla (19 saves, 1.70 ERA) closes things out and he has two good set-up men in Sergio Romo (3.72 ERA) and lefty Jeremy Affeldt (2.28 ERA).
Giants Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , San Francisco is +1800 to win the World Series, +800 to win the pennant again, +400 third favorite in the NL West and with an "over/under" wins total of 83.5 (under the -130 favorite). Posey is +2000 to win NL MVP with totals of 19.5 homers and 85.5 RBIs. Bumgarner is +1200 to win the Cy Young and with totals of 14.5 wins, 209.5 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. The Giants were 82-80 against the spread last season and 76-76-10 O/U. On the moneyline, they were +802 units on the year.
Giants 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects San Francisco to finish 81-81 and third in the NL West. I agree with the third. This team isn't as good as the Dodgers or Padres but better than the Rockies and Diamondbacks. I think the Giants are too overly reliant on two guys: Posey and Bumgarner. They would each have to stay off the DL and have MVP/Cy Young-caliber seasons for this team to even have a shot to get back to the playoffs (and it would be by wild card because the NL West title is not happening). Go under the wins, under Posey homers, over RBIs. I sense a small World Series hangover for Bumgarner. Over wins (not by much), under strikeouts and over ERA. Look out next year I guess.
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